Sometimes putting down the sword or gun and picking up a hammer and sickle is good for your health. Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is just that sort of therapy I needed in my life as I explored the vast island crafting items, completing delivery quests, and simply taking a stroll across the various ecosystems that the environment had in store for me.
Yonder borrows inspiration from a couple of noteworthy titles like Breath of the Wild, Minecraft, and a little bit of Portal Knights, but after a couple of hours I felt that it successfully cemented itself in my gaming library as something that I will go back to when I need a break from the violence and gore of the gaming industry.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles lets you take the role of an explorer who gets stranded on an island with no idea where he is and what he is doing there. A strange, mystical being calls forth for him and guides him along his journey. A strange dark mist has blocked off sections of the island and it is up to you to search for these adorable little creatures known as the Sprites and use them to clear the path. While you are at it, you are thrown with various tasks to complete by the many villagers on the island.
As I landed on the Island things did seem a little overwhelming at first, but luckily the tutorial at the start and the opening quests give you a guiding light in the right direction. I was free to explore as much as I wanted to in the opening area, up until I was unable to pass through a cloud of mist. Yonder is a crafting game and it relies on this system as one of its core foundations. Finding items, breaking them down, and crafting new ones is what the game is all about.
Yonder, however, has a decent story to follow through on this crafting mechanic, of which we often don't see in games of this genre. While it lacks a survival aspect to it, the mystery behind the island, and having all these people asking the world from you will keep you focused throughout the game. I loved Dragon Quest Builders thanks to its story and its great momentum in the way it is portrayed, and Yonder is sort of on the same level of quality here.
Delivery tasks instruct you to find specific items and bring them back to a mission giver. These can be found or crafted on the fly from your inventory if you have the right materials, or you can simply hunt down the items yourself. Yonder kind of gives you enough room to breathe without feeling limited to how far you are in your journey. It eases you into each area and task without overwhelming you with information to consume. Sure, by the end of the game I was tackling cooking, making clothes and doing the daily fetch and carry quests for the island, but the stepping stones up towards those advanced tasks were enough to digest without feeling too daunting.
The overall map in Yonder is huge and it is broken up into various themed areas of which was always a delight to explore. The starting lands are basic, but as you progress through the game you will explore dry deserts, mountains and snowy areas. Again, each ecosystem has different animals that inhabit them, items to craft, and new resources to find. It was always enjoyable climbing to the top of a mountain to see what new adventures await below in the next area, and you can kind of see the entire island in its whole from a distance, which gives you the feeling of how big the game really is.
You will spend quite a lot of time in the game farming, taming animals, and growing your homestead across the island. While the crafting system is quite basic when compared to games like Minecraft and Dragon Quest Builders, it was enough for me to appreciate the rest of the activities to do in the game. Instead of having dozens of mechanics running at once while building a farm, you enter a simple grid mode where you can select a building and place it in the area. Simple, but effective.
Then it was time to gather some animals to join my farm, I then head out to hunt one down, I gave it a treat and it followed me back to my farm. Different animals produce different items for use in the game from milk, to yarn and other goods. A typical session with Yonder saw me exploring a new area, discovering new Sprites which let me move into a new area on the map, crafting new items, and completing various quests. While these quests can get a little tedious at times, as they are simply fetch-and-carry related, the world is interesting enough to keep your mind busy along the way.
Fishing, herding, chopping down trees, smashing rocks, and of course, the constant search for new farms to open and Sprites to find was the general activities throughout the game. For some, the overall direction of the game might get a bit boring after a while, but for others like me, who enjoys being isolated in a world alone at times, it is a sweet escape from the world.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles has a rough 8-10 hour main story, and that was with me rushing through the last few parts. There are still dozens of quests and things for me to go back and do in the game, which gives it another couple of hours of game time. I simply loved my time with Yonder. The gorgeous vistas and tranquil ambience pulled me in and I never wanted to leave. I can say that it is a decent indie game that offers a tranquil escape from the mainstream gaming world. Thank you for the sweet escape Prideful Sloth.
Take a look at some gameplay below from the early portions of the game.
Available On: PS4, PC| Reviewed